Memphis candymaker employing autistic adults unable to oppose Starbucks in trademark battle

Memphis business employing autistic adults at odds with Starbucks over trademark, wants partnership
Published: Jan. 26, 2018 at 3:00 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2018 at 7:33 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis startup dedicated to helping people with autism has found itself in a David vs. Goliath fight with a household name.

Every company starts with an inspiration. For one local startup, their inspiration was their first employee--Rob Dunavant, a great salesman.

"I packaged toffee which we sell at pop-ups around town," Dunavant said. "Our products are like the candy bars that you buy from the store except better."

Rob has autism. The company who employs him was started by his father, David, in 2016 with an important mission, hiring adults with autism. Autistic adults face an unemployment rate of 82 percent.

"We wanted a name that can brand us nationally to differentiate ourselves," David said.

Give Good was that unique name, and David was excited to grow with a healthy Give Good bar this summer. But they ran into a corporate-sized problem.

In November, Starbucks rolled out a holiday campaign with "Give Good" as the slogan printed on millions of coffee cups. David was devastated.

"The consumers are confused. Creating a new brand, this was one of the worst things that could have happened to us," he said.

"More anxious, like am I going to be out of a job soon? Am I going to have a job that's going to help me move out of my parents' house?" Rob asked.

David said they were near the end of the long trademarking process when Starbucks released the campaign. Even though his lawyers claim he has a strong case for a lawsuit, he knows he doesn't have the finances to take down a global giant, so he has another idea -- a partnership.

"Join us," David said.

"I think y'all should team up with us because we have a lot to offer, and y'all have a lot to offer so we could work together to promote the giving of good," Rob said.

If you want to help out, you can buy Give Good products. These products and more are on their website or you can write to Starbucks and say you'd like to see this partnership happen.

WMC Action News 5 asked Starbucks about both the alleged trademark infringement on the name "Give Good" and the possibility of partnering with the Memphis social activism company. But they didn't answer either of those issues when asked. Starbucks issued the following statement:

"The Starbucks holiday campaign theme "Give Good" was intended to inspire people to appreciate all of the things that bring us together and to act with giving and kindness, and is not affiliated with GiveGood, Inc."

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